Mark Mathias — founder and chair of Maker Faire Westport; founder and president of Remarkable STEAM, Inc. — writes:
Seven years ago, Maker Faire Westport launched in Westport. We had no idea what we were starting. It sounded like fun, and was meant to be a party for geeks.
Organizations such as the Westport Library and a handful of volunteers put on the event. The Sunrise Rotary Club gave us the seed money, along with other sponsors.
That first year, we hoped for 800 attendees. 2,200 showed up.
After 7 years, Maker Faire Westport is the largest single day event in Connecticut. This past spring, it attracted 13,500 attendees. 15,000 to 20,000 are planned for the 8th annual event on April 27, 2019. Of more than 770 Maker Faires globally, Westport is in the top 5% of attendance.
From its geek roots of 3D printers and robotics, Maker Faire Westport has become the “go to” event for creative, innovative people, and a showcase for what Connecticut has to offer.
Companies such as Sikorsky (helicopters), Electric Boat (submarines) and ASML (semiconductor chips) demonstrate the types of high tech manufacturing going on in Connecticut.
Colleges and universities like Sacred Heart, Fairfield, University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community College and Norwalk Community College show off their educational programs and graduates.
And organizations such as the Westport Young Woman’s League and League of Women Voters showcase their good works in the community.
The value of what Maker Faire Westport is doing was cemented in my mind when I was invited by the Italian government to attend Maker Faire Rome in October.
Produced by the Italian Trade Agency and Rome Chamber of Commerce, it promotes and highlights Italian innovation and businesses around the world.
Delegations of reporters and businesspeople were flown in from around the world. They joined 115,000 attendees, 700 selected projects and visitors from 61 countries.
Italy is not alone in its vision. China has 3 large Maker Faires, which also promote economic activity.
What is offered at Maker Faires is far more than just geeky fun. It’s a showcase of human capital, businesses, vibrancy, and a place where people will want to work, live and invest. Maker Faires are inspiration, substantiated by proof.
In other words, Maker Faire is a way to help grow an economy: businesses, schools, libraries and communities.
For the 8th annual Maker Faire Westport, we will continue to embrace creative people and showcase the best that Connecticut offers. We will work to let the world know and see that value. We will continue to inspire local people to learn about opportunities for personal growth, skills and career opportunities.
We welcome all who want to be a part of Connecticut’s economic and social future.
If you have an initiative already in place, we can work with you to leverage it on a larger scale. If you want to gain visibility and access to people who should know about you, we can work with you. If you have a vested interest in the success of Connecticut, work with us to help realize your success. If you have a quirky or unique hobby, talent or project, we want you too.
Planning is underway for next year’s Maker Faire Westport. Please contact me to discuss how you can benefit from this initiative: firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-226-1791.